Loose Ends

Loose Ends

the creative impulse gone awry

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Day in Knitting

I often hear, "Kim, how do you knit so much?  And with 2 little ones?"  Well, today, I'm going to show you!  It's amazing how much knitting you can get done when you sneak it in a row here, a row there. We start off in the morning with a little bit of a sleeve that I started the night before:

This is a pattern that I'm writing myself for Flicker from Berroco.  LOVE this yarn, it's a cable construction (so it looks kind of braided instead of twisted) with a little hint of sparkle.  It is so squishy, which, of course, I love.  So anywho, we started off yesterday playing restaurant, my server:

After some fun restaurant play, with Zoë at my feet playing with a box of hot wheels, it was time for Zoë to have her morning nap.  Usually Clara and I watch a Sesame Street.  This is some very good knitting time!

Clara prepares some snacks for Sesame Street!

my progress before naptime - only an inch!
my view during Sesame Street
After naptime, we have to have a spot of lunch and play and at some point I can usually get the girls playing independently to knit a little more.  We're back to the "restaurant" this time Clara colors for a while and the zone is playing _under_ the table...

my progress after naptime
It was sometime around here where I realized my math was correct but my initial conditions were ALL WRONG!  I tried to make it work, but the sleeve was looking weirder and weirder and so, well, before:


While the girls were bouncing on the couch I managed to re-take my gauge (it was off 4.5 instead of 4 sts per inch and 6.5 instead of 5.5 rows...oops) and re-do my math (lengthening the sleeve significantly)  Of course, the evening doldrums started to creep in and we had two tantrums and one (very long) meltdown.  So dinner was in order!  After Josh came home, dinner was finished and Clara and Mommy were back from our ice cream date it was time to get back to that sleeve.  My favorite knitting time is when one of the girls is in the tub.  They are both self sufficient enough that they don't need my hands on - but do need supervision.  So while Clara was creating adventures with one of her toys sailing the seas, with many mishaps and boat fixing and even making his own raft and riding around on turtle - I was starting the sleeve over:

just cast on - not even joined in the round yet!

After the girls go to sleep, is my next best time for knitting.  Usually we relax in front of the tube - either josh plays some video games or we watch some quality programming.  After 2 episodes of X-files I've got a lot more sleeve:

Oh, just think about how much more I would get done if I didn't have to rip out so much!  That's okay, really, it's all part of the design process.  I could tell you that it's all sleep-deprived haze that makes me screw up so much.  But, honestly, I did just as much ripping out before I had kids.  I just make lots of mistakes! 

I can't wait to get a little farther on this sweater, I discovered something pretty neat while making the other side-to-side sweater and I want to make a little tutorial for you.  You definitely will be seeing more of this Flicker!  So there you have it, almost a sleeve (or two depending on how you think about it) in one day of knitting with kids... Not too bad!  If you can manage to put down your knitting at a moment's notice to kiss boo-boos or do some state-department level negotiations for the yellow bouncy ball then you can get as much knitting done as me! 

Now, back to that sleeve!

Friday, March 25, 2011

What is soft?

a : pleasing or agreeable to the senses : bringing ease, comfort, or quiet
 f : smooth or delicate in texture, grain, or fiber
It seems like such an odd question - What is soft?  We all know when we feel something that is soft...  But we all have such different ideas of what soft means.  Naomi and I are always in conflict on this point becuase our definitions of soft are so very different.  We rarely have yarn-gasms over the same yarns.  For Naomi, soft usually means a more slippery, slick kind of smooth.  For me, soft is not slippery, it's more squishy.  If I feel a ball of yarn and it's hard when I squeeze it, it's not soft.  I need some squish like a pillow.  I generally like woolens - a nice merino, especially a tweed.  Soft for me has a lot to do with the fiber preparation - which is why a tweed appeals, it has that lofty squish that I just can't get enough of.

Naomi loves the rayons, the slick, cool feel of a bamboo with all the drape and swing that they imply.  I know this, I'm familiar with that.  So when I passed this sock to my sweetie and said, "Isn't this soft?" and he looked at me all funny and said it wasn't soft at all - I was confused!  I passed him the sweater I am working on out of a bamboo rayon and said, "What about this?"  That was soft to him.  Apparently I'm in the minority of my (albeit small) sample group. So I ask you - What is soft?

For me: our newest sock yarn - so new we only have one (disgustingly, shockingly, beautiful) color of it. Taiyo Sock from Noro.  In the Wavy Lace Sock from Favorite Socks

Monday, March 21, 2011

A wee little tutorial: Grafting Garter Stitch

So my ingenious little sweater that I told you about a few days ago, My Better Side (to side) is pretty much mundane knitting except for two little things, my nifty casting on under the armhole (tutorial soon) and the very end where you graft the two pieces together.  Now, if you are a lucky knitter and get to finish the sweater in a stockinette section, then wheeee!  It's just like finishing the toe of an enormous sock, we can all graft that.  Well, most of us, at least, but it's pretty straightforward and the instructions you find online or in books for grafting are all for stockinette with the right sides (knit sides) facing you.

But what if you are me, and you end your sweater in the garter section?  And you don't just want to do a three needle bind off, because then you have a horrid little seam and it doesn't look like the sweater sprang, fully formed, from your forehead?  Then you have to graft your garter stitch section, and well... It honestly took me a while and a few tries to figure it out, so I thought I would make up a little tutorial to show you the general idea. 

Here we go:  You, dear readers, have two pieces of "sweater" in garter stitch.  The key is that you need to finish one with a wrong side row, and one with a right side row.  If this were a plain garter stitch object, it wouldn't matter, because garter is reversible.  This sweater has stockinette sections in between the garter sections so it does matter.  For those of you knitting the sweater, please remember one side having finished wrong side, other side having finished right side.  Place your two pieces facing eachother (this is how I like to think of it) with the tails of the working yarns on the same side:

Now make sure that the wrong side is looking up at you on the back piece, and the right side is looking up at you for the front piece.  This way when you pick them up to do the grafting, the wrong sides will be together.  In this orientation, both pieces have the purl bumps facing you:

Now, grab your darning needle of choice and meet me at the tips of your needles.  Both pieces are in your left hand and your threaded darning needle is in your right hand- I like to use the yarn attached to the front piece: (oh my god, is that a video?  It is!)

So there you have it, grafting with garter stitch in glorious HD!  I hope this helps, it's a darn cute sweater and the little finishing touches make it!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Where did my knitting groove go?

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I haven't been knitting.  I have.  Actually, I've been knitting a lot these days, but none of it seems to be working the first, second, and possibly the 4th times.  In a run down of knitting disasters I've had recently:

The first is a sweater that I designed, that I love, and is knit from side to side.  I got the idea from a free pattern for this yarn we sell, called Giant Skeins from Handpainted Yarn Company.  It's 12 different yarns all dyed to match and all sold in one giant skein (well named, that yarn!) It's 1440 yards, which is generous.  They have this sweater, also cardigan, also side to side, but I found the pattern hard to read, hard to knit and the sizing was odd.  Also, my larger customers would have had to buy two (not inexpensive) giant skeins to make it and that didn't seem fair.  So I shortened it, and shortened the sleeves to make the yarn go farther.  I loved their striping sequence, so I kept that but instead of knitting it left to right, I decided to make both pieces identical and start at the sleeve ends and work toward the middle (on both pieces) and graft them at the center of the back.  Of course, I knit two left fronts. (go me!)  frog, frog, frog.  2nd time worked just fine, a left and a right front thank you very much and it's gorgeous (if I do say so...):

My better side (to side) details coming on ravelry and pattern available soon!

Then the clapotis, you stinker.  This is a gorgeous pattern and I wanted to knit it in some gorgeous yarn we have, the ever beautiful Rayon Metallic from Great Adirondack yarns.  I had heard that, yo, you wouldn't have enough yarn so leave off one of the repeats, and it's all good.  So I truck along, leave off one repeat and run out of yarn.  Hrm.  So I frog back to the beginning of the decreases, rip out one more repeat and truck along, and you guessed it - ran out of yarn.  Somewhere during this repeat my cat may or may not have consumed and then regurgitated about a yard of the stuff.  So I ripped it out one more time thinking, surely, SURELY, if two repeats wasn't enough, then three certainly would be, and um, I ran out of yarn again.  Careful readers will note that was the third ripping out, the 4th time I had tried to knit the decrease section.  Sigh, so I decided to get really critical.  I counted how many stitches I had on my needle (40) and since I was decreasing 1 stitch at the end of each row I knew I needed to knit 40 more rows each with one less stitch... (did I mention I was a math major in college?  stay with me) so that is 40 + 39 + 38 + 37 + 36 + ... + 3 + 2 + 1 = 820.  820 stitches of yarn is what I needed - so I figured out that I had 107 stitches on the needles before I started decreasing so if I ripped out 8 rows (8*107 = 856) then SURELY I would have enough yarn.  And I did, just enough.  To be precise, I had 2.5 inches of yarn left.  I was sweating it at the end, let me tell you.  It certainly is a thing of beauty, and it's a good thing the yarn was rayon or it would have become completely destroyed with all of the reknitting.

do you see that little tail there on the bottom right?  yeah, that's how much I had left!

Lastly, and most recently I wanted something mindless and easy to cleanse my knitting pallate from the (#*%&!!!) Clapotis from heck and so I started this little spring hat for our adorable (and now walking) Zozo.  Of course I had a pattern in mind that Denise had knit and it was so cute on that I grabbed the yarn and brought it home.  I remembered that the smallest size cast on 80 and the largest cast on 112, so I picked 96 (did I bring the pattern home too?  oh no, that would have been the smart thing to do, sigh) and cast on with some #4s.  And the hat fit me.  So I did what I always do, I pinched off the size I wanted, counted the stitches and cast on that many.... and made a yarmulke.  Because when the world is crazy, and Japan is underwater there is nothing less comforting than knowing I can't even manage to whip up a hat for my kids without ripping it out twice (or more for fun!)

bonus action shot, the hat is obviously too small!

I'm sure this bout of bad knitting karma will end soon.  These things always pass. It will probably help when Zoe starts to sleep a little better. She's cutting teeth like there is a steak waiting in front of her and she'd like to have enough teeth to eat it before it gets cold.  Overachiever!

I have to admit that my knitting may be turning the tide already.  I'm working on a pair of gauntlets for a friend of mine and the first one turned out perfectly with only one rip out session... and frankly that was the gauge "swatch" so it's all good, right?  I'd put a photo up - but they are kind of a surprise... so not yet!

I'm so sorry for the unexpected blogging vacation!  I expected my life to get significantly easier after our little trip to maine and somehow it all got more complicated!  Things are evening out and I will hopefully have a little more "free" time for the blogging next week.  As you can see, I've been knitting like crazy, even if I don't have a whole lot to show for it!  Hopefully there will be even more FOs for you to see soon!